Monday, July 18, 2005

BOR: Mehlman to NAACP

Via Burnt Orange Report:

Please recommend this cross-post at dKos to keep the discussion going over there.

From the transcript...

I certainly will, going forward, if either party engages in things which are racially polarizing unnecessarily -- for instance, a good example, in 1998, the Democrat Party put up ads in Missouri that said -- I mean, this is appalling -- that said, "Every time you don't vote, a church burns. Vote Democratic." That's an appalling example.

The NAACP unfortunately in the 2000 campaign likened the president to James Byrd, who was a racist killer in east Texas, who the president brought to justice.

...We need more racial reconciliation.

That would be great if James Byrd was a racist killer in east Texas. Unfortunately for Mr. "Who me, gay?" Mehlman, James Byrd wasn't a racist killer. He was the African American victim of a gruesome hate crime.

Brewer testified he kicked Byrd's ribs once to break up the fight and then sprayed the victim's face with black paint. Seconds later, Berry came up behind Byrd.

Brewer heard a click, then a swooshing sound as Berry's arm made a sweeping motion.

"Byrd had his hands up here," Brewer testified, motioning with hands to his face, "and I guess that's when Shawn cut his throat."

The testimony was a startling twist to a brutal story that has attracted global attention.

Prosecutors allege Byrd's murder was carried out to draw attention to the racist gang to which Brewer and King belonged.

While juries in two trials had heard the grisly details of Byrd's death -- chained by his ankles to a pickup and dragged to pieces along three miles of road -- not even law officers were aware Byrd's throat had been cut first.

Gray wasn't convinced Byrd's throat was slashed, saying there wasn't enough blood at the fight scene to confirm it happened. And the autopsy showed Byrd was alive and attempting to hold his head up as he was being dragged, which Gray said doesn't jibe with a victim whose throat has been slashed.

It was of course this case that lead to the passage of the James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes law in Texas, which includes protections based on 'sexual preference' as well, one of the last pieces of good legislation passed in 2001 when the Democrats still had control of the statehouse. Of course, President Bush opposed the bill in 1999 where it died in committee.

The cluelessness seems to extend from Mehlman to the top of the party as well, as Bush didn't seem all too interested in the case to get the facts right either.

"The three men who murdered James Byrd, guess what's going to happen to them?" Bush said, smiling. "They'll be put to death. A jury found them guilty. It will be hard to punish them any worse after they get put to death." In actuality, two of Byrd's three murderers -- John William King and Lawrence Russell Brewer -- have been sentenced to death, while the third, Shawn Allen Berry, was sentenced to life in prison, and will be eligible for parole after 40 years.

Reached over the weekend, members of the Byrd family said that they weren't surprised Bush got the details of the case wrong. Unlike other Texas public officials -- they cite local mayors, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, and President Clinton -- Bush was never remotely comforting to their family after Byrd's grisly murder, they say.

"I wasn't surprised that he didn't know," says one of Byrd's younger sisters, Betty Boatner, 46. "I wasn't surprised at all."

Bush "should have known" the details of the trial, says Stella Byrd, James Byrd Jr.'s mother. "But I wasn't surprised about his reaction." She says Bush showed no concern when her granddaughter talked to him in May 1999 to try to persuade Bush to support the James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Act, which would have increased punishment for criminals motivated by hatred of a victim's gender, religion, ethnic background or sexual orientation. "So I'm sure with that lack of interest, he didn't ask to see what was going on."

Slip of the tongue or just more words lacking actions from the GOP? Could there be a reason why African American voters have a problem getting over the trust barrier to listen to what your party is preaching?


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